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St. Kate’s volunteers serve their communities through annual Citizen Katie event

Katies past and present, along with some faculty and staff members, had a busy day on Saturday, October 18, the annual Citizen Katie day of service. Over 300 volunteers in the Twin Cities served at 15 nonprofit work sites, while more than 50 alumnae participated in service projects through 10 alumnae chapters around the country.

At Sarah’s … an Oasis for Women, volunteers helped with indoor and outdoor fall cleaning and sorting of donations. Sarah’s offers housing for women who have suffered significant trauma and are trying to become self-sufficient. Many of the residents come from other countries where they were victims of torture or human trafficking. The center was founded in 1996 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Margaret Coleman Gadient ’69 shared that Citizen Katie volunteers felt blessed to have served, and were impressed by the foresight and dedication of the Sisters who founded the center.

Gadient says, “Our volunteer work was rewarding, humbling and fun!”

CommonBond Communities was another of the nonprofits served by Citizen Katie. CommonBond develops affordable housing communities with onsite services for families, seniors and individuals with special needs.

Kate Seng ’84 shared some of her group’s thoughts at the end of their day at CommonBond, saying “words our group used to describe their experience were rewarding, connecting, meaningful, making a difference, and helping provide dignity.”

At Bluff Street Park in Minneapolis, Katies cleaned up litter, painted over graffiti, pulled weeds and trimmed invasive growth such as buckthorn. Led by Zev Radziwill and other neighborhood residents, the group helped make the public space one that neighbors can enjoy. One student volunteer at this site commented that she had gone on a mission trip to Mexico to help those in need, when she has only to look in her own community to find many opportunities to help.

“Our understanding of community was truly enhanced by the dedication of our site leads, Zev, Jerry and Tom, who are simply residents of the nearby River Tower Condominiums and make up the task force that makes sure this public space is well cared for,” said Jill Warren ’68.

Citizen Katie volunteers also worked with the Highland Friendship Club. The organization serves teens and adults with disabilities, helping to develop skills and friendships. The volunteers were surprised at how quickly they connected and bonded with their new friends, and some are now even friends on Facebook.

Kari Roisin Guida ’01 says “The experience was fun, memorable, heart-felt and inspiring. Our activities reinforced the St. Kate’s commitment to giving, but it never felt like giving, it felt like playing.”

A crew of Katies worked on outdoor clean up at St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Minneapolis. The program serves children and their families by addressing needs for shelter and stability, as well as offering long-term solutions to emotional and behavioral issues. Tammy O’Connell ’82 noted that many of the student volunteers had not done any gardening before, but were able to learn as they worked.

O’Connell says “Words our group used to describe the experience were rewarding, satisfying, inspiring, life changing and energizing.”

More than 70 Citizen Katie volunteers went to work at Second Harvest Heartland, a hunger relief organization. Volunteers packaged 5,680 pounds of potatoes and 1,975 pounds of rice, which will provide 598 meals. Alumnae leaders at the Second Harvest Heartland work site reported that one student was inspired to take food and money donation boxes to begin a food and funds drive her in dorm with her Resident Advisor’s guidance.

Other Citizen Katie accomplishments include:

Citizen Katie goes national through alumnae chapters

In addition to the 300-plus volunteers in the Twin Cities, the following 10 alumnae chapters participated in Citizen Katie nationwide:

  • Chicago Katies volunteered at Bernie’s Books, which collects and distributes children’s books among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children.
  • Denver Katies worked with Extreme Community makeover, a nonprofit that works on outdoor urban renewal projects in inner city neighborhoods.
  • Des Moines Katies volunteered with the World Food Prize’s Annual Symposium, an event for individuals who have worked to improve the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world.
  • Naples, Fla., Katies worked at the Happy Chapin Food Bank, which collects and distributes food to the hungry in Naples.
  • Philadelphia Katies volunteered at Friends of the Wissahickon, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the beauty and wildness of the Wissahickon Valley.
  • Phoenix Katies volunteered at StreetLight USA, a group that helps adolescent girls transition from trauma to triumph.
  • San Francisco Katies collected food for Feeding America, one of the largest hunger relief organizations in the United States.
  • Seattle Katies served at the Ronald McDonald House, assisting families with ill or injured children.
  • Twin Cities West Suburban Katies returned to Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners. IOCP provides both emergency and long-term solutions around food and clothing, housing, employment, childcare, transportation, and access to resources.
  • Washington, D.C. Katies worked at a Light the Night Walk, a fundraiser for cancer patient support services and cancer research.

Corporate chapters at General Mills and Hennepin County Medical Center also took part in Citizen Katie.

The General Mills Corporate Chapter volunteered at Dress for Success, an organization that promotes the economic independence of women by providing professional attire.

Katies in the HCMC Corporate Chapter, along with student volunteers, sorted and packaged bags of food for people in need at the HCMC Therapeutic Food Pharmacy.

View more photos from the event on our Flickr site.

Oct. 22, 2014 by Sara Berhow

See also: Alumnae/i, Catholic Identity, Leadership, Social Justice, Students